My interest in the urban planning began in my teenage years. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, an old, industrial city founded on the steelmaking and railroad industries which has seen better days. As a native of the city I always wanted to understand why Birmingham did not experience the same prosperity as other booming southern cities – Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and the like. These questions steered me down the path of becoming interested in the development and planning of cities, leading me to the decision to pursue planning as my major course of study while at Alabama A&M University. During the course of my undergraduate studies, I received a solid education on the fundamentals of the field; however, I would like to build upon that knowledge by pursuing graduate level education and studying in-depth concepts within the broader field of planning that I only acquired a cursory knowledge of at the undergraduate level. Though I struggled with my studies in the beginning of my undergraduate career due to lack of maturity and ability to responsibly juggle a part-time job, extracurricular activies, and my studies, I later progressed academically, earning better grades in the latter part of my tenure at Alabama A&M.
I am most interested in land use and growth management issues, as well as transportation planning. More specifically, I'd like to study ways in which these two subfields of study can be molded together to create a plan for a city and/or metropolitan area that conserves resources and maximizes the use of existing infrastructure. Such a plan would address glaring equity issues that manifest themselves in problems such as the urban/suburban transportation mismatch so common in U.S cities that makes inner-city residents unable to pursue suburban job opportunities due to a lack of a solid public transit system. Another consequence of unsustainable planning which I'd like to help mitigate and alleviate during the course of my career in planning is the negative environmental impact of unsustainable growth – the destruction of greenfields and the subsequent wasting of taxpayer dollars and local resources on infrastructure spending, and the chipping away of the available land that could be used for conservation and recreation purposes. In short, I'd like to do my part to help make cities and communities as equitable, sustainable, and resourceful as possible.
I believe that furthering my studies in classes such as Urban Form and the Design of Cities (taught by Dr. Thomas Campanella) and Transportation Policy (taught by Dr. Daniel Rodriguez) would help provide me the education I need in order to help develop the best possible plans to achieve my goal of making cities as equitable, sustainable, and resourceful as possible. I am excited about the prospects of taking classes such as these that will undoubtedly build upon the basics of urban design and policy-making that I learned at the undergraduate level.
In short, after a deliberate review of the course offerings at the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina and a subsequent visit during the department's Open House sessions in early November, I am convinced that DCRP will offer me the tools I need and the opportunities I am seeking in graduate level studies in the field of urban planning.